[8 September 2006]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Everybody wants to sleep with the bartender, as the old adage goes. Well, if you’re in a club and the person who’s spinning happens to be female, everybody wants to sleep with the DJ, too. Any guy will tell you—a cute woman behind a pair of decks is more sexy than a thousand teenpop starlets (unless said woman is a teenpop starlet, in which case she’s laughable and pathetic). Acutely aware of this fact, Om is promoting House of Om—Colette & DJ Heather as “the first mix CD by female artists on Om records!” Two women, of course, are better than one.
Not that the principals here are exactly oil and water. Both Colette and Heather are signed to Om. Both are from Chicago and spin house music that bears the influence of the city that spawned it. And both know how to create a hot mix that oozes summertime. These gals aren’t just pretty faces with headphones; they’ve racked up international accolades. Each gets a disc to show their stuff, and neither one wastes a second. Taken together, these mixes are a tight, creative, and consistently enjoyable way to get your booty going.
Colette gets the first disc, which makes sense as her take on house is more melodic, vocal-and-song-oriented, and immediately accessible. Colette recently released her first “artist album” (where she creates the music and sings on each track instead of mixing), and her sweet-yet-husky vocals grace about half the tracks on her mix. This isn’t a problem, because the girl has pipes—think Madonna as more of a pure singer with greater technical range—and the vocals lend cohesion to a mix that is, within the limits of house music, all over the map. Colette comes out swinging, the uplifting soul of Rockers Revenge’s “Walking On Sunshine” (not the Katrina and the Waves ‘80s hit) getting right to the classic Chicago vocal house sound, riding a buoyant bassline that literally nudges you out of your seat.
Andy Caldwell’s remix of Colette’s own dance hit “What Will She Do For Love” is probably the best-known track on the disc, and the big name quotient goes up with appearances by Kaskade and former British Next Big Thing Craig David. Colette isn’t afraid of dropping some acid in, either, by way of Del Costa and Pedro Goya’s too-brief “#37”. As the mix goes on, though, the disparity of styles seems to get more random, with funky electro, samba, and old school house coming in rapid succession. You get the feeling Colette is just going through her record collection, picking tunes out at random. Granted, they’re all good tunes, and her voice holds it all together, even if comedown attempt “Feelin’ Hypnotized” closes the mix out on a weak note.
Where Colette’s juxtapositions begin to sound random, Heather’s come across as calculated—part of her generally harder-hitting, leaner, meaner, more late-night sound. From the beginning, blips and blurps are prevalent, with the combination of Kaskade and Mark Farina providing some stability early on before momentum takes over. Nods to the old school are more overt, too, from Island Knights’ “No stoppin’, / keep rockin’” refrain to Tracey Cooper’s throwback exhortation to “jack your body to the sound” to nostalgia for bygone Chicago haunts like Medusa’s on Bryan Jones’ “Bump This”. The moment that really grabs your attention and thrills you, though, is the so-wrong-it’s-right shotgun marriage of warm soul-diva vocals and icy-cold acid backing on Brett Johnson and Heather’s own “Everything’s Electric”. TradeMarq’s goofy rap “Orange Julius” is another of the many off-center touches that contribute to Heather’s wild ride.
Neither Heather nor Colette are very flashy; you won’t hear a lot of effects or mash-ups, though both know when to cut out the bottom end and drop it back in. Best of all, you don’t have to want to sleep with them in order to enjoy what they have to offer.